Unexpectedly high demand and only one chain of supply have brought Pennsylvania marijuana dispensaries to their knees.
Visitors to a Bucks County marijuana dispensary have been greeted by empty shelves. All that is left to sell are a few vape pens.
So bad is the situation of high demand and no supply that a dispensary in Devon greets its customers with a “closed until further notice” window display. The notice informs visitors that regular hours will probably resume in mid-March, “with the exact date yet to be determined”.
Both dispensary owners say they have been overwhelmed by the demand and would never have predicted the number of patients needing medical marijuana supplies. They say that the Pennsylvania market is far larger than anyone could have dreamed.
One of the dispensary owners had projected 60 customers for the month but had ended up serving more than 600 patients within the first eight days of opening.
Another dispensary in Bethlehem only has a few indica oil-filled cartridges, and some concentrates, left on its shelves. Customers are limited to a mere two cartridges. However, the owner of the Bethlehem dispensary is optimistic that the current situation is merely “growing pains” that he does not expect to be repeated in the future.
Eleven licensed cultivators yet to enter the market
This unexpected turn of events has taken place in less than a fortnight since Pennsylvania legalized its medical cannabis program and has been primarily caused by the fact that the state’s medical dispensaries are only being serviced by one grower/processor.
To date, the state has awarded licenses to 12 growers but it is only Cresco Yeltrah that is currently supplying medical dispensaries. The company’s cultivation facility is based in Brookville and it also owns three dispensaries. The other 11 growers’ licenses have been awarded to:
—–> Holistic Farms, New Castle
—–> PurePenn, McKeesport
—–> Agrimed Industries, Carmichaels
—–> Ilera Healthcare, Waterfall
—–> AES Compassionate Care, Chambersburg
—–> Terrapin Investment Fund, Jersey Shore
—–> GTI Pennsylvania, Danville
—–> Standard Farms, White Haven
—–> Pa. Medical Solutions, Scranton
—–> Prime Wellness, Sinking Spring
—–> Franklin Labs, Reading
These 11 grower/processors are expected to come on-stream within the next few weeks and prices of medical marijuana products are then also expected to drop as more competitors enter the market. Six more dispensaries are scheduled to open this weekend, with a further 50 more establishments earmarked for operation in the state by May.
Apparently, two of the 11 licensed growers are expected to harvest and process their crops and to enter the market by the end of this month (March).
According to April Hutcheson, of the Department of Health, two more dispensaries are scheduled to open next week – in Plymouth and in Phoenixville.
Pennsylvania’s legal medical pot journey
Pennsylvania began its legalized pot journey in April 2016 when Governor Tom Wolf put pen to paper on a new medical cannabis bill. This law now allows dispensaries to sell pot in the form of oils, ointments and tinctures, as well as in tablet-form. Smoking dry leaf marijuana, however, has been outlawed by the Health Department.
In terms of state law, medical marijuana cards can be issued to patients whose doctors certify that they are suffering from one of 17 specified medical conditions. These include cancer, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s Disease, epilepsy and other seizure disorders.
So far, more than 13,000 people have been registered in the medical pot program.